Mister Rogers: The Opposite of Cynical
In Mister Rogers’ neighbourhood people are honest, your feelings are important, and you are special.
Mister Rogers exuded goodness of heart, purity of intention and folksy wisdom. He was the opposite of cynical.
I was tiny when I watched his show but I still remember how Mister Rogers made me feel. Here was a grown up who took me seriously, who might listen, who was interested in interesting things like how crayons are made and dragons and chocolate, who had a toy trolley that went between worlds, who understood that make-believe was just as real as real life, which could be scary. Mr Rogers was a magical, safe, grown up who could think like a child and an adult at the same time. He was the best imaginable neighbour.
For those not aware of Fred Rogers, he created and starred in a children’s TV show that ran for 33 years — from 1968 — on public television in the US and Canada. It was half an hour long, and for much of the time, Mr Rogers spoke, rather slowly and quietly, or sang in a clear tenor, to camera — that is to the little people on the other side of the screen.
Watching Mister Rogers Neighborhood now, especially those early shows, you can see the show is entirely a projection of his own calm personality and gentle imagination. The sets are cheap, the lighting so-so, the props are dull, but somehow Mr Rogers is magic, and he takes us into a world that feels very, very safe.
I’ve always thought he must have a fishy element to his chart, because of the importance he placed on the shoe (since Pisces rules the feet), that fishtank in the studio and his easy way with a song. I’ve just learned that he also swam almost every morning of his life.
In fact, Fred Rogers is an ultimate Pisces, with his Sun at 29° the very final degree of the entire Zodiac, with all the wisdom of the previous 359 degrees poured into it.
“Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.”
His Moon is in Pisces too, and so are Mercury and Venus in a tight conjunction with Vesta, the asteroid of legacy and service.
Pisces at its very best is kindness, and that quality of loving kindness seemed to pour out of the little glass screen in the corner of the living room.
But I’ll let Mr Rogers speak his own chart.
“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.”
Mister Rogers talked about love a lot.
The chart ruler is Venus, the planet of love, in her favourite sign Pisces, where she expands her love to include the universe. She’s tightly conjunct Mercury, the messenger — and that was, indeed, Mr Rogers core message, love.
Vesta is part of that conjunction too, and she often shows how we can be of service now — and the legacy we can leave behind.
“The greatest gift you ever give is your honest self.”
One of Mr Rogers charms was his childlike directness. It felt like he was completely genuine. This is sensible Taurus Rising along with that Venus-Mercury — and maybe even Capricorn on the MC. The latter is pretty straightforward and wants to get the job done. It’s also ambitious.
The MC is ruled by Saturn in Sagittarius, the sign of publishing and broadcasting, but placed in the eighth house of psychology. Maybe Mr Rogers ambition was to get inside your childish head. He used his expertise as a child psychologist to create his show, and collaborated for years with child psychologist Margaret MacFarland, who gave him weekly advice on his show.
He also has Chiron, the wounded healer, in Taurus in a perfect sextile to that Venus-Mercury.
“When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch.”
One of the most fascinating facets of Mr Rogers chart is the placement of Lilith on his descendant in Scorpio. Who would think that one of the most taboo points on the wheel should also be on a critical angle. Lilith was the “you” he addressed: the outcast, the misfit, the “other”, made much more so by Scorpio. Maybe this was one of the reasons he reached so deep. It seemed like he loved broken people.
Part of his shtick was the straight-to-camera, straight-to-you address. He reached directly into children’s hearts.
Maybe this is Lilith working beautifully.
As a deep-dyed Pisces, Mr Rogers himself swam in the numinous, and he took his audience with him.
“Anything that’s human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary. The people we trust with that important talk can help us know that we are not alone.”
One of Mr Roger’s biggest topics was allowing children to express and talk about their feelings — even the bad ones. He started this work at a time when children were still ‘seen and not heard’, and little boys especially did not show feelings. How unmanly.
Pluto in the third house is not afraid to talk about dark stuff. In Cancer that dark stuff might be feelings or family. Pluto is also associated with psychology, of course, and there he was bringing psychology to broadcasting.
But that Pluto placement means even more, for this third house is the house of neighbours, and that is what Mister Rogers role was –everyone’s neighbour. “Won’t you be my neighbour?” How interesting!
This neighbour is here, perhaps, to transform you, to change your thinking completely, to be your psychologist, and make you think deeply. Pluto makes a lovely trine to that super-sensitive Pisces Moon, but thrillingly also to that curious Lilith in Scorpio. There you, Lilith, can talk about your Pluto stuff. And above all, Pluto values the truth, and seeks the truth.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
Moon in Pisces (the caring, powerful mother) trining that Pluto in the third house of communications. His message was not to ignore the darkness, but to acknowledge it, walk towards it and help.
“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”
This is something that every person, let alone every child, needs to understand deeply. You don’t really know what effect you have on each person you come across, so every encounter is important. And with each encounter, you leave a trace and take away a trace. And you never really know the measure of it. This is all that Pisces again.
It’s clear that Rogers was a highly sensitive person. Specifically, he was modelling great empathy and emotional reactivity. This is Pisces Moon at its best, and it’s in the 11th house of the public and communal experience.
He also worked with a team to create his shows, who tended to come and never leave. That’s a quality of 11th house Moon: creating a family at work.
“We live in a world in which we need to share responsibility. It’s easy to say “It’s not my child, not my community, not my world, not my problem.” Then there are those who see the need and respond. I consider those people my heroes.”
“He was the soft son of overprotective parents, but he believed, right then, that he was strong enough to enter into battle with that—that machine, that medium—and to wrestle with it until it yielded to him, until the ground touched by its blue shadow became hallowed and this thing called television came to be used “for the broadcasting of grace through the land.” — Tom Junod in Esquire Magazine’s profile of Mister Rogers, Can You Say..Hero?
Mister Rogers has been much in the spotlight for the last few years, more than a decade after his death. Two movies have been made about him, a prize-winning documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour? and a drama starring that other kindly national treasure Tom Hanks, A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. And just the other day, one of Trump’s people made compared Jo Biden to Mr Rogers … like that’s a bad thing. For readers outside Rogers-zone, that’s like saying David Attenborough is an old bore. The comparison has done Biden a world of good, and actually puts the choice nicely in perspective. Mr Rogers qualities are pretty much the antithesis of what is valued today, which may be why he is on people’s minds.
We are, in fact, in a decade when Neptune in Pisces can amplify his message. Mister Rogers own Neptune in Leo, the performer, is in the 5th house of children. And speaking of sensitivity and kindness, and water signs, have you noticed how easy it is to cry with Mister Rogers?
As an antidote to these cynical times, Mr Rogers is perfect — just as he knew he would be when he first came across the TV squatting in the corner of his parents’ living room.